Reaper DAW is a great, highly functional alternative to Pro Tools | First.

Wait, did I say Pro Tools First? Forget that. Get Reaper!!! | Arvada Guitar

So I have been a hard-core Pro Tools fan since 1994.  However I have also been a hard-core Pro Tools / Avid hater since about 1995.

Pro Tools is indisputably the industry standard recording software used in every pro recording studio worldwide.  The studios may also use other software, but if you want to be compatible and competitive in the industry, you better be running Pro Tools.

But at the same time, Pro Tools is extremely expensive in comparison to other DAWs, they often release production updates to their software that feel more like Beta versions, and the fact is that compared to many other DAWs, they offer less functionality for that expensive price.  They have also forced users into various paths that either limit their functionality or cost 4 times what their lower performance systems cost.

Well, I got pretty excited when they released Pro Tools | First.  A free, trimmed down version of their flagship software that could give my students a taste of the real world.  And, you know, I even overlooked the bugs / functionality changes that suddenly occurred between updates.  But when Avid announced that they were going to begin CHARGING money for Pro Tools | First, AND they were going to a subscription based format, and jacked the price to actually OWN the software to incentivize users to use the subscription service, well, they pretty much lost me.

I will definitely be buying Logic when I get my next computer upgrade.  But for now, I am running Reaper.  (update, already got Logic – still evaluating)

I learned about Reaper through a student a couple years ago.  I wasn’t really impressed with the interface, but I figure that is simply a matter of getting used to it.  People who use something other than Pro Tools tend to not care for the Pro Tools interface, though I find it very clean, streamlined and user friendly.

Did I mention that Reaper is only $60 for non professional users?  Yeah.  $60.  Sold.

For my use in teaching, Reaper is great.  A default slider for playback speed is right in the main window.  Nice.  Set that to .8 (80%) and just drop songs into Reaper and they play back at 80% speed.  Really nice.

Not the biggest fan of the plug-in window, but who cares.  It still works.  And it only cost me $60 instead of $600+++

Forget Pro Tools.  Get Reaper.

Reaper DAW is a great, highly functional alternative to Pro Tools | First.

Reaper DAW is a great, highly functional alternative to Pro Tools | First.








Why is Guitar so difficult to understand?

Why is guitar so difficult to understand? | Arvada Guitar

Why is guitar so difficult?

I have been noticing a trend among some of my recent new students. Several of these students are also piano players. And they have been having a difficult time getting their head around the construction of the guitar. After some pondering, I created this graphic to help illustrate some of the differences between a guitar and a piano. Not sure that it helps, but it does definitely inform!

Piano, brass and woodwind instruments all share a particular characteristic: they are two dimensional. The notes/keys are arranged in a line.

The guitar, however, is a 3 dimensional instrument. It has both X and Y axes. That can seriously complicate one’s understanding of the instrument.

And for a Piano player, wow can it get confusing. A guitar is basically a set of 6 different keyboards, one for each string. But each string / keyboard is offset from the other. So rather than the keyboard tower at Arvada Guitar, which is nicely lined up to facilitate performance…

Arvada Guitar Keyboard Tower

… we end up with a set of 6 keyboards, each staggered like this:
Why is Guitar so difficult to understand?


Wow! No wonder people find the Guitar to be confusing!



Vox Amplug 2. The Best Guitar Amp for under $50!!!

Best Guitar Amplifier for Under $50!! Vox Amplug 2 | Arvada Guitar

Is it possible to get a decent guitar amp for under $50?  Yes it is.

I think I have found the best guitar amp for under $50. “Under $50?!?” you ask? Yes indeed. In fact, its $44.99.

The Vox Amplug 2 is a small device that you plug directly into your guitar. Then plug in your favorite ear buds and you are good to go.  You can even connect a music player like your phone, iPod or iPad to jam along with your favorite tunes.

Boy, I wish I had this when I was learning to play!  My first amp was a headphone amp too, but it had NOTHING.  No tone, no effects, nothing.

Oh yeah.  1978 baby!!  11 yrs old and rocking my first, awesome, Global bass!

Well the Vox Amplug blows away those giant old cans.  The Amplug 2 has 3 different amplifier modes, each with increasing gain and a variable gain control. You also get 9 selectable effects; 3 different variations each of chorus, delay or reverb.  And the whole thing takes only 2 AAA batteries!!

The sound quality BLOWS AWAY the two previous IK Multimedia iRig’s that I have tried.  Both the original iRig ($40 + Amplitube models) and the iRig HD ($99).  Both of which were prone to ridiculous feedback that made them unusable and high gain.  I am an Amplitube user in my ProTools rig and love it.  But these iRig interfaces are just too cheap and poorly made apparently. IMHO, of course…

But the Vox Amplug is killer.  Sounds great and has lots of options built in.  The model I have played through is the AC30 version.  But they also have Classic Rock, Metal and Bass versions.

So can you really get a decent practice amp for under $50?  Yes you can.  The Vox Amplug 2!  And you can find it right here at Sweetwater Sound!




68 vs. – SheetMusicDirect Wins!! | Arvada Guitar

So my students know that I almost always create my own charts and tabs for songs.  Primarily because almost everything I find online is… well, wrong.  I know.  I have said it so many times that I too am tired of hearing it.  But its true.  Sometimes I am wrong.  For sure.  But very often tabs, charts, even published music you pay for is just plain wrong.  And it doesn’t take a musical genius to figure it out.  If a 12 yr old guitar student sitting next to me can agree that the recording sounds one way, and that the written music sounds wrong, then, well, I don’t know what to say.

I mean, I feel for the transcriber.  I really do.  I imagine it’s some poor slob in a warehouse of cubicles, sitting there with headphones and a ridiculous quota of tunes to transcribe in a day.  He is probably really busy.  Maybe he has indigestion.  He might just be deaf.  I don’t know.

Anyway, every now and again I will go looking for a published transcription either to speed the process, or facilitate what I think might be tricky.  So this week I had one of those days.  I’m working on In The City by Joe Walsh.  Very interestingly it was apparently written and originally released in the soundtrack for the movie The Warriors, if you remember that cult classic!  It was then subesquently released on the Eagles album The Long Run.  Also very cool.

Anywhoo, so I found two different tabs on two different sites. (SMD) is my usual go to for published music.  But many of my students and colleagues use (MN) so I decided to check that one out too.  Well, unfortunately, they only let you see the first page of the score, right?  So I am looking at these two scores online, comparing them, and boy, I really don’t want to spend $10 to buy them both but I figured, “what the heck.  It’ll be a good test”.  Indeed it was.

First off, the SheetMusicDirect version had two different guitar lines notated, though they both appeared to be the same.  But that is often a good sign.  But the MusicNotes version  “appeared” to be more “professional” with the chord symbols and such at the top.  SheetMusicDirect on the left and MusicNotes on the right.

But it was really when I started to dig that things became clear.  One of the specific things I was looking for was the exact voicing of the chords in the chorus.  At first I thought I was just hearing major triads, and essentially an A Form major chord being moved up to D at V and E at VII.  Well thats apparently what the dude in the cube at MusicNotes thought too.  But when I saw the SheetMusicDirect chords, I knew they were right.  And a close investigative listen to the recording agreed.  Look at these two different versions, again SMD on the left and MN on the right.

Not even close.  I knew I was hearing notes that didn’t fit that straight major triad.  And I also knew that the 4th chord was not the same as the 2nd chord, though they are similar. The MusicNotes guy phoned it in.

But it gets worse when we look at the solo.  The solo played on a slide guitar.  You know, slide guitar, where they very often use Alternate Tunings to accommodate the linear nature of the slide itself.  Well, look at the front page for both the scores.  Again, SMD on the left and MN on the right.

Well, the guy at SMD got it right.  He noted the Alternate, Open Tuning for the slide guitar.  At MN?  Not so much….  So then we get to look at what these guys thought was being played in said solo….

First off, the SheetMusicDirect score includes all the fancy giant slidey things before what I would call the actual solo (First giant circle on the left).  The MusicNotes version conveniently omits that part.  Im sure  because the guy who was tabbing for standard tuning had no way of notating it.  But then look at the solo part.  Ok, they both get the 17-17 moves right.  But if you know the song at ALL you don’t even have to touch a guitar to see that the MusicNotes version isn’t even close to what Joe was playing.  I mean really?  Who thinks the solo sounds like an E Major triad descending?  The MusicNotes score is OBVIOUSLY WRONG.  Whereas it also takes about 2 seconds to look at the SheetMusicDirect score to know it is EXACTLY CORRECT!

Finally, I will return to that cool little arpeggio that slides from D to E in every verse.  Again, SheetMusicDirect on the left and completely CORRECT.  MusicNotes on the right and sadly once again wrong and lamely notated with no indication of the legato slide.

Ok, so in conclusion, this is only one score.  I cannot vouch for the accuracy of every score on, nor can I imply the inaccuracy of all the scores at  And of course, neither one of these places commissioned the transcription.  This stuff comes from the publisher.  Though I am very confused as to how the publisher would have released one awesome copy of the score and one completely crappy version as well.  But clearly in this case, SheetMusicDirect wins hands down and at only $2.99 for the score is a WAY BETTER option than MusicNotes which is very wrong and very expensive at over $8 for the online version, the PDF and tax.

There you have it. vs.  SheetMusicDirect wins!

Arvada Guitar

New Songs: Q1 2019 : Over 20 of new songs added to the Teaching List! | Arvada Guitar

“….Currently teaching from an ever growing list of over 1000 songs from the 50’s through today!…”

Sorry, sorry!  Been SUPER BUSY so far in 2019!!  I’ve been setting new records for the number of lessons taught at Arvada Guitar in a week and I can finally say I think I am at my limit with 30-35 full hour lessons per week!  Yikes!  Did someone say “Carpal Tunnel Syndrome”?

So, we’ve added over 20 new songs to the Teaching Library in the first quarter of 2019.  A couple standouts are Tennessee Stud, All Right Now (finally I know how to properly play that guitar part!  Super easy but sounds deceptively difficult!) and Like Light to the Flies by Trivium!  Wow, never thought I would be learning and teaching a Trivium song but we can do it with the use of TECHNOLOGY!  The song is pretty ridiculously fast.  But with ProTools | First I can slow it down to a definitely doable speed.  Pretty cool tune.  Still not a fan of the screaming though….


New Songs added to the Guitar List

Imagine – John Lennon

Helplessly Hoping – Crosby, Stills & Nash

Breaking the Chains – Dokken

Bang a Gong – T. Rex

Elderly Woman Behind a Counter in a Small Town – Pearl Jam

Feels Like Rain – Buddy Guy

Like Light to the Flies – Trivium

Rockin’ Into The Night – 38 Special

My Proud Mountains – Townes Van Zandt

What’s Going On – Marvin Gaye

Drift Away – Doby Gray

Lean On Me – Bill Withers

?????????????? ?????? (Sentimental Chat) – Alexander Suchanov (Russian Folk song)

Lets Be Still – The Head and the Heart

Tennessee Stud – Jimmy Driftwood / Billy Strings

All Right Now – Free

Easter – Marillion

Million Reasons – Lady Gaga


New Songs added to the Bass List

Somebody to Love – Queen

New Songs added to the Vocal list

Elderly Woman Behind a Counter in a Small Town – Pearl Jam

Lean On Me – Bill Withers

New Songs added to the Soloing List

Somebody to Love – Queen

All Right Now – Free


Best Snow Day Ever! Thanks to Discord and my awesome students! | Arvada Guitar

Wow!  What a great snow day!!  The roads were treacherous so 5 out of my 8 students today decided to load up Discord ( and we had our lessons online from the toasty warm safety of our homes!  Only one hearty die-hard die-hard chose to make the drive – U Da Man David!

Technology and the Interwebs are truly an amazing thing!  Thanks to all my awesome students for taking the time to load up the best video chat software available – Discord (  It was a unanimous success approved by all!

What an awesome snow day!

Ditch Skype and get Discord!!! (


Arvada Guitar uses EX Drummer for Guitar and Bass instruction!

EZ Drummer is the latest addition to Arvada Guitar’s tools for learning!

EZ Drummer is the latest addition to Arvada Guitar’s tools for learning!

We already told you how we are doing all our tabs in Guitar Pro 7, so that they are note for note perfect with no “chicken scratch”…

We also told you about how Pro Tools | First has been getting tons of use for pitch correction of old, out of tune recordings (so we don’t have to retune our guitars!). We also use it almost daily to slow down songs so that students can relax and focus rather than frantically chase a song that is too fast…

Well, now we are using EZ Drummer to create drum tracks for jamming and improvisation!  Super high quality drums, with super high quality MIDI loops performed by actual drummers, makes spontaneous jamming even more exciting!  The perfect tool for improvisation, scale exploration and technique refinement for both bass players and guitar players.

Come see why Gene Crout and Arvada Guitar is consistently being rated the best guitar instructor in the Denver Metro Area!

Arvada Guitar uses Pro Tools | First in lessons. We teach Guitar, Bass, Voice and Audio Production featuring Pro Tools HD!!

Are you aware of Pro Tools | First? | Arvada Guitar

Did you know that Avid is offering a free version of Pro Tools?  Its called Pro Tools | First and I am finding it extremely useful for teaching and learning!

Of course, I am already a Pro Tools user.  Fact is, I have been using Pro Tools since version 2.0, circa 1993.  But I normally do not have my main Audio Digital studio rig running during lessons unless we are recording or its an Audio Production lesson.  So on my iMac that I use while teaching at Arvada Guitar I have downloaded Pro Tools | First and use it very regularly in lessons.  I can correct pitch issues for older recordings. I can apply EQ filters to assist in hearing and transcribing parts.  But most importantly, I can quickly slow down songs when students are learning and can’t keep up with the original recording of a song.

This is SUPER helpful to students.  Not only does it take pressure off so they are not chasing the song, but it keeps them playing WITH the song which is supremely important.  Everyone learns parts outside of time, meaning at a very slow pace with no determined or fixed tempo, while they are learning a piece.  But to continue doing this after you have the basics down is a disservice to the student and the song.  Playing with the song enforces the all important reality of staying in time with music.  You must keep the tempo, you must listen to your band mates and stay with them.  As the saying goes, “Timing is everything”.

All you have to do is drag the song into a Session file, open the Tempo Ruler window and drag the tempo line down.  Viola!  The song slows down.

So, I strongly encourage all my  Arvada Guitar students to download Pro Tools | First.  Its free.  Its cross platform.  And it will introduce you to the indisputable #1 recording software used in virtually every professional recording studio around the world.  Go get it. Hit me up if you need some help finding your way around.

Get Pro Tools |First Here!

Arvada Guitar has a 20% Discount Code on Guitar Pro 7 for our students!

20% discount on Guitar Pro 7 for Arvada Guitar Students

Arvada Guitar is proud to announce that we have been given a 20% Discount Code for our students on new purchases of Guitar Pro 7!

Arvada Guitar started using Guitar Pro 7 for all our guitar and bass tabs and it is awesome! A great tool for learning to read standard notation, for composing and arranging your own music, and of course for finding and using guitar tabs online. Guitar Pro 7 is the format used on websites like Ultimate Guitar, Jellynote, Music Notes and

Please contact Gene directly if you are a current or former student looking to purchase Guitar Pro 7. (Sorry, not going to post the code here and have it get used up in 30 seconds by internet trolls. :).

Arvada Guitar says NO to Guitar Center!

Just Say No to Guitar Center

Well, its official.  I have absolutely no reason to ever set foot in a Guitar Center again.  I’ve been pulling back for years, but now I am done.  There is simply no reason to patronize the Walmart of Guitars anymore.

Last year, I already said I would stop sending students / Parents there.  I sent a parent to get a $40,  3/4 size Yamaha guitar that we found online for their 6 year old.  They had no idea whether the child could do it or would stick with it.  Obviously we were not expecting much from a $40 guitar.  But it HAD to be better than the toy guitar they started with.  But the parent walks in, asks for the guitar and the teenage salesman immediately tried to upsell them to a $149 guitar.  Lame.  Super lame.

Well, today I tried to exchange a 20′ Monster guitar cable that I bought at GC some years ago.  The cable failed and as it is guaranteed for life by Monster, the procedure WAS to simply bring the broken cable in and swap it out for a new one.  “No questions asked”.  Well, apparently not anymore.  According to GC “people were cheating and cutting off ends of cables and returning them for new ones”.  Well, uhh, excuse me, that must be YOU GUYS AT GC!  Cause when I bring the cable back, I bring the whole cable back.  No bs.   But apparently it must be like the time I bought the brand, new software package from GC only to get it home and find that the Registration Code had already been used.  Hmmmm.

Well, if Guitar Center can no longer provide ANY CUSTOMER SERVICE WHATSOEVER, whats the point in shopping there?

And now they are my direct competition, by offering extremely compelling (sarcasm!), high quality [sic], Guitar Lessons in a Closet! Yay!  Yes, you too can get awesome guitar lessons from your local pimplyfaced teenagers inside a well, equipped (NOT), darkened closet!  FUN!!

Lame, lame, lamest. Done.

I can buy all my gear from Sweetwater Sound and get actual support as well.

I can get my strings online.

I will buy my guitars from Drum City Guitar Land, Wildwood Music and other local shops.  Never from GuitarMart anymore….





Can you really learn with Rocksmith?

Well, I’ve heard about it for years, wanted to check it out, and now I am going to do it.  I’ve had at least two students come to me after attempting to learn guitar with Rocksmith.  After a few futile months their wives said “why don’t you get some lessons from a teacher”.  Now, of course, they have several songs under their belts and are doing great.

But whats the deal with Rocksmith?  They say on the box “the fastest way to learn guitar”.  Well, we’re gonna find out if that is true.  Can you learn guitar with Rocksmith?  Is it as effective as working with a teacher?  Is it a good resource for guitar players?  And most importantly to me, are the songs accurate?  Do you really learn how to play the song the way it was originally played by the artist?  One of the most offensive things to me are Easy Guitar books that supposedly teach you how to play a song and then leave you to figure out later that what you learned isn’t even close to how the song should be played.  Interpretation is one thing.  Rewriting songs so that they can all be played with open chords or a capo is another.  Call me a stickler if you want but when I play a song I want it to sound like the song.

So, here we are with our fresh new Rocksmith Remastered.  I’ll let you know how it goes….


Guitar Pro 7

Guitar Pro 7

Guitar Pro 7

Arvada Guitar has (finally!) obtained Guitar Pro 7 and will begin using Guitar Pro for creation of all tablature effective immediately.  No more chicken scratch.  No more inaccurate rhythms and timing.  I have been looking at Guitar Pro for some time and have finally taken the leap, based on input from two students (Thanks Dom and Harrison!!) who have found Guitar Pro to be an invaluable tool both in their own song writing and production, but also in their music reading ability.  So I’m in.    I am also going to be looking into both the Affiliate program and the Educational program to bring best possible pricing to all my students.  Stay tuned!!